Vegan Stuffed Shells

Vegan Stuffed Shells

Incredible Vegan Stuffed Shells with an unbelievable dairy-free ricotta and spinach mixture! Nobody will believe this is oil-free or vegan. It is the epitome of delicious comfort food!

We all needed a delicious dish to use up that fabulous Vegan Ricotta Cheese I just posted, right? Of course, I shared it on pizza, but my goal all along was for these Vegan Stuffed Shells.

Without a doubt, one of my husband's favorite dishes I used to make years ago before we went vegan, was stuffed ricotta shells. Now, of course those were dairy-filled and we haven't had stuffed shells in almost 6 years now. It. Was. Time. Not only do these taste just like the dairy version but my husband absolutely loved them and said "this is fantastic!" He also suggested this was the perfect dish to impress guests with. Not only is it beautiful and colorful, but it is so good and filling. Hey, it's pasta! I asked for any suggestions on changes and he said, "not a thing". Then I had my daughter taste it, she gestured 2 thumbs up and said "super yummy!" so there you have it. Of course, when I had a taste, I was ecstatic at how delicious it was.

How to Make Vegan Stuffed Ricotta Shells

First, make my Vegan Ricotta Cheese.

Next, make the pizza sauce (see directions).

Spread 1 cup of the sauce at the bottom of the baking dish.

Add the cooked spinach to the bowl of the ricotta cheese.

Mix the ricotta cheese with the cooked spinach, salt and Italian seasoning until it is well mixed like this.

Fill the pasta shells with about 2 heaping tablespoons of the ricotta mixture.

Spread the remaining 2 cups of sauce in and around the pasta shells. Drizzle the centers across all of the shells. Cover with foil and bake at 375°F for 30 minutes.

Garnish with fresh basil. Devour and come back and tell me that isn't one of the yummiest dishes ever!

I'm telling you, this dish is so filling, delicious and healthy. Yet, it is totally vegan and oil-free!

Next time guests come over, prepare this dish. It's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser both visually and for making very happy tummies.

You know the drill, make it and come back and let me know what you think of it and leave your feedback below!

Yields 4 servings (4 jumbo stuffed shells)

4 shells per serving

423

Vegan Stuffed Shells

Incredible Vegan Stuffed Shells with an unbelievable dairy-free ricotta and spinach mixture! Nobody will believe this is oil-free or vegan. It is the epitome of delicious comfort food!

30 minPrep Time

45 minCook Time

1 hr, 15 Total Time

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5 based on 16 review(s)

Ingredients

  • 16 jumbo pasta shells
  • 10 oz package fresh spinach (do not use frozen!)
  • 3 cups (720g) of my homemade pizza sauce (you'll have to double the recipe, see NOTE)
  • 1 batch of my homemade ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (2g) Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • fresh basil for garnish
  • Note: I used my homemade pizza sauce for this because it really has so much more flavor than jarred marinara and only takes 5 mins to make, but use what you like, knowing that the dish will take on the flavor you choose. If using my pizza sauce, you'll need to double the recipe and will be left with 1 extra cup of sauce and just use that for a pizza or another pasta dish.

Instructions

  1. First, make the ricotta cheese. You will need a day in advance for this or to start soaking the almonds in the early morning to make this for dinner the day of.
  2. Add 5 quarts (20 cups) water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add 1/2 tablespoon of salt and the pasta shells. Give it a stir and cook until almost aldente, about 9 minutes. You want the shells just slightly undercooked since they will finish cooking in the oven and don't want them mushy or falling apart.
  3. Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water and set aside for a minute.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and get out a 9x13 baking dish.
  5. While the pasta is boiling, add the spinach to a large pan over medium-low heat with 2 tablespoons water. Cook, stirring constantly until it is just wilted-you don't want to overcook it, about 3-5 minutes. Add the cooked spinach to a strainer and let it cool a couple of minutes. Pick the spinach up with your hands and squeeze to strain the excess water, trying hard to get as much out as you can.
  6. Add the ricotta cheese to a large bowl with the spinach, Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir to mix very well.
  7. To the baking dish, add 1 cup of the pizza sauce and spread it out across the bottom. Stuff all the shells with about 2 heaping tablespoons of the ricotta mixture carefully and place into the dish, giving a bit of space in between each one.
  8. Spoon the remaining 2 cups of sauce in between and around the edges of the shells and a drizzle of it over the center of the shells (see photo). This allows the beauty of the shells to still be seen but still soak up some of that yummy sauce.
  9. Place a piece of foil over the dish and bake for 30 minutes until piping hot and bubbly. You won't technically see the bubbling, but you will hear it. Remove and let sit for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil.

Notes

Prep time does not include the soaking of the almond for the ricotta cheese.

7.8.1.2
1948

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49 Comments

  1. I can’t wait to make these. Thank you
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Awesome, can't wait to hear what you think of them!
  2. THANK YOU! I haven't a doubt that this will be delicious. I appreciate your efforts to find ways to make good vegan food without all the things that aren't that good for people to eat. I share your website with others searching for the same. Keep up the good work.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Wonderful Marilyn, I hope you love it! Thank you for the kind words!
  3. This recipe is out of this world! I am salivating as I type this. Love your recipe for homemade ricotta - it's on my list of recipes to try! And the photos here are absolutely gorgeous, Brandi!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Aww, thanks so much Nisha! You are so sweet! I hope you love the ricotta!
  4. Okay forget everything I said about lasagna, this is even better! Similar flavors but less layering and so much classier too🤗 I've never had stuffed shells in all my life (thanks mom lol), so I'm curious--why pizza sauce instead of marinara? And um did you manage to pack an entire bag of spinach in here...IMPRESSIVE. So it's basically like the obligatory side salad cooked right in😊 That super cheesy bite shot is giving me all the EAT ME feels, love this simple but so yummy meal. Oh the possibilities with vegan ricotta on the scene!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Never had stuffed shells?? NO way! Oh, you must, it is soooo good and comforting and filling. Oh, I use pizza sauce because as I mention above I used my homemade pizza sauce for this because it really has so much more flavor than jarred marinara. I think marinara is rather plain tasting and especially jarred marinara, which is disgusting. My pizza sauce has a lot of herbs in it and a ton of flavor and since so much sauce is used in stuffed shells dishes, I wanted lots of flavor! But to keep it strictly at 8 ingredients, I gave people the option to use jarred if they want. :) Haha, well you know how spinach is, it is HUGE when it's fresh, but when cooked down it's like 10,000 times less the amount, lol, so it actually ends up being the perfect amount! Thank you Natalie
  5. Are the shells you used gluten free ? If yes where did you find them? I have been everywhere trying to locate organic gluten free shells for stuffing Many Thanks for your help
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Hi Alice! No, I'm not gluten-free so these are not gluten-free shells, just regular wheat. I know they make them though but I'm sure they are probably tricky to find in stores so I easily found them here on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2JwgcVG
  6. Ok. STOP what you are doing!!! If you're looking for total comfort food, stop here. I was super excited when I made the almond ricotta to make something exceptional. Well look no further. Add #thevegan8 homemade marinara/pizza sauce and you have a rich and creamy dish that will blow your mind. It's totally plant based and we think is better than the dairy version without feeling bloated after. 😋😋😋 Sooo good that hubby licked the cooking dish ...hahaha
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Yay!! So beyond thrilled how much you all loved this dish! It was just as much happiness over here while we were eating it! Thank you so much for the amazing review and for making it so quickly!
  7. Yum, Brandi! This will be this Sunday's dinner. Like you I haven't had stuffed shells for years. Just one question--you say to use one batch of your pizza sauce, but that only makes 2 cups, correct? So you have to use 3 cups of pureed tomatoes to have enough for the shells, right?
  8. Love these shells. These are looking so delicious and healthy. I can't wait to try this out.
  9. Delicious! Used plain almond yogurt- could not locate the coconut yogurt :/ Came out great with the almond yogurt! Added some chopped artichoke hearts to the spinach & ricotta mixture. So good!!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      So wonderful to hear Tess! So glad it worked out well and thank you very much for taking the time to leave a lovely review! I really appreciate it!
  10. I just made your pizza sauce yesterday (as you recommended) and finished up the "ricotta" today. I even slivered all the needed almonds (bought the wrong almonds lol ty to Google) so I really put some extra love/wrist pain into this dish. Lol. Anyway today was the final moment of truth and it was DA BOMB aka THE SHIZNIT. I could not even tell the difference which is the best type of veganized meal. I even got the approval of one omnivore. Ty hun. Super awesome recipe.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Haha, I love that! The SHIZNIT! Lol, best description yet! Thank you so much Amanda for this amazing review, it made my day! I know right?? That's what we were saying here, nobody would EVER have a clue it wasn't dairy ricotta! By the way, would you mind adding the star rating, they help out my blog a ton, thank you so much!
  11. Sue
    Great recipe! I used manicotti shells.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Wonderful Sue! So glad you enjoyed them!
  12. Loved this! We thought 3 shells were enough for each of us--so filling, with a salad! So delicious and fun to have stuffed shells again. And I did not obsess about having regular shells instead of whole wheat (difficult to find)---while I try to avoid white flour, once in a while isn't going to hurt! The filling--yum! My only problem was a small one, but the pizza sauce wasn't at all saucy. I like a thick sauce, but this was more like clumps of tomato puree---almost like it had congealed after sitting the fridge overnight. And it was still like that after baking it. So not very saucy, but fortunately the shells weren't at all dry since the filling is so moist. I can't figure out what the problem was---it was just a regular can of Kroger pureed tomatoes with the spices blended in the Blendtec. It was completely smooth and saucy after I blended it---but something happened in the fridge overnight...
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Awesome Ellen! So glad you loved them!! Oh yes, that’s totally normal for the sauce to thicken overnight. That always happens with tomato based sauces when there is no oil in them. I just whiz it back up or let it come to room temperature and it’s saucy again :) Just blend next time before use and let it get room temp and it will be saucy like my pics :)
  13. Made these today. Oh em gee. Sooo sooo good.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Yay! Thrilled to hear that! Thank you Ariana!
  14. These were amazing! Makes for awesome leftovers as well
  15. Whoa!!! This is AMAZING!!!! It was a hit with everyone that tried it. They couldn’t believe it was vegan. Besides soaking the almonds and making your pizza sauce the night before, this was SO easy to throw together. Can’t wait to make it for others to try and realize there are GREAT tasting recipes around without dairy/animal products!!
  16. Oops forgot to put 5 stars ⭐️!!!
  17. Oh my goodness, Brandi, you've outdone yourself. I've been plant-based for two years now and this recipe is hands-down the best thing I've put in my mouth. The ricotta is even better than dairy ricotta and when it's baked it's nearly impossible to tell it not the real thing. Simply amazing. THANK YOU!!!!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      This comment thrilled me to read Callie! That is how I felt too, haha, like "whoa this tastes just like the dairy I used to make!" so I'm so happy to hear how much you loved it and the best thing you've had in 2 years, wow! Yay!
  18. Brandi, we had this for dinner tonight and I am almost in tears because it was so good. So many recipes I have tried recently have been thrown in the trash, but this was getting such great reviews, I figured I would give it a try. The whole time I was making it, I just knew it wasn't going to be a winner and was starting to feel defeat once again. Boy was I wrong! My hubby is very picky and had THIRDS! I could still taste some of the crunch of the almonds, but I think I might need a new food processor. I'll look into the one you have. This will definitely be one of my recipes to make for special occasions (we try not to eat white pasta or nuts very often). Thanks for another great recipe!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Yay Linda! I've been anxious to hear what you thought about it and I'm just so happy you loved it so much! Ha, I was feeling the same way, happy tears because of how it tasted just like the dairy version I used to make, but heck, even better to me! Glad your hubby had thirds, wow! That is so awesome, thanks for the lovely review! Oh and just fyi, the longer your process, the smoother the ricotta should get, so just blend longer if your processor isn't very strong :)
  19. Liv
    Oh yum! I grew up with stuffed shells so this recipe is super nostalgic. I don't think I've had stuffed shells since I left the east coast. And your ricotta recipe looks brilliant, I typically use cashews so I'm excited to try something different. I have some extra marinara in the freezer so this was meant to be.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Hi Liv, hope you love these! Almond is a much more neutral flavor so it works best for ricotta, in my opinion, since ricotta is a subtle flavor!
  20. Ana
    So attractive, thank you!
  21. Ok where is the dramatic eye rolling emoji when you need it??? OMG these were so.darn.amazing. And I don’t use the word amazing very often. I even screwed up the ricotta (soaked in cold water not boiling and put double the vinegar oooops). But nevertheless they were still amazing. So good my husband said nobody would ever know they were vegan. And he has them for lunch the next day and said that’s his favorite recipe-that I’ve made in the last 3 yes of being vegan. Way to go!!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Stephanie, this was the best and funniest feedback! hahaha, I love your comment! That is how I felt too after the first bite, lol! I'm so happy to hear how much you loved this and WOW, awesome testimony from your hubby!! Yay!
  22. I cannot believe how easy and delicious these were. I was skeptical about the ricotta- I never liked the dairy version. But it was perfect. I will definitely be making these again and again!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Yay! That thrills me to hear, thank you so much Britton for this amazing feedback!
  23. Oops, forgot the 5 star review!
  24. I replaced whole wheat baby shells for big ones and layered like baked macaroni.... sauce, shells, ricotta mixture, then more shells and sauce. Baked as you directed. Result? Awesomeness. The large whole wheat shells are really hard to find so the small shells layered was a great sub! Thank you for the recipe!!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      That is so awesome Lynn! Thank you so much for making them and the wonderful review!
  25. Another winner! Even though, similarly to another commenter, I made a huge mistake with the ricotta: the children were asking and telling me a million things as I was adding the ingredients and I used tablespoons of vinegar rather than teaspoons (i.e. I tripled it)! I googled a quick fix and added just a bit of baking soda to take the edge off, and the result was sharp but not completely overwhelming. And all mixed together and baked with with sauce, spinach, and pasta..mmm! I am Italian and have been eating the "real" versions of dishes like these my whole life, and I'm not sure I would have been able to tell the difference if I hadn't made it myself. Next time I'll go easier on the vinegar, but mostly, I'm just looking forward to the next time!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Thera! I'm so thrilled this was such a hit for you! And even with the vinegar messup haha! Thank you so much for coming back and leaving feedback!
  26. Made this for dinner tonight and want to say thank you so much for a wonderful recipe that taste so much better than the dairy version I used to prepare years ago ! I really appreciate all of the recipe notes you include, the delicious looking photos, and your generous sharing ...this one is a great "keeper" ...5 stars!!!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Elaine for this awesome review! I'm so thrilled to hear you loved these! I love them more than the dairy version as well!
  27. I seriously CANNOT believe that this LITERALLY tastes just like ricotta cheese. This is hands down my favorite vegan recipe.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      This makes me so happy to hear!! Thank you so much! Right?? It totally can fool any dairy-loving friends :)
  28. ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. One of my most favorite recipes. I make it weekly, it’s become the family go to meal. So simple, easy on the budget and delicious! I wish I could give it more than 5 stars!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Courtney, you made my day, thank you so much!!

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